Coach Ewan McKenzie earns some breathing room after his side’s classy performance.
Australia’s inspirational captain Ben Mowen said the Wallabies’ clinical 32-15 defeat of Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday had been their most complete performance yet under coach Ewen McKenzie.
Mowen said the foundations they had been laying since McKenzie was appointed, following the sacking of Robbie Deans after the series loss to the British and Irish Lions, were evident to see in both defence and offence.
The Wallabies beat the Irish consistently at the breakdown which they had identified as a crucial battleground and were rarely troubled in recording their first back-to-back successes this year.
This dominance allowed them the freedom and possession to score four tries — the Irish scored none — taking their tally to an impressive 22 in their last five Tests.
“This was our most complete performance yet,” said Mowen, who has enjoyed a meteoric year after only making his Test debut in the first game against the Lions.
“We were well-balanced in both attack and defence and it was our strength in the breakdown where we knew the Irish would be strong that laid the foundations for our tries.
“The spirit was right throughout the match. When you have three Wallabies fighting to win the same ball that shows the spirit and determination we have.
“It’s what we have been working for. We were working really hard but the results didn’t go for us but we stuck at it and then suddenly you pop out the other side and the results do go for you and that is really pleasing.
“We need to add to this next week against the Scots.”
Mowen’s selection as captain — replacing lock James Horwill — by McKenzie was greeted with surprise as was Quade Cooper as vice-captain as his attitude had been questioned in the past with him referring to the atmosphere under Dean as being ‘toxic’.
However, the mercurial 25-year-old produced a superb performance, scoring 17 points including a wonderful individual try.
“I thought Quade was outstanding tonight,” said Mowen. “He set guys up for tries and he also took his brilliantly with a superb eye for the gap.”
McKenzie, who was at one point in the frame for the Ireland job when Declan Kidney was sacked following a disappointing Six Nations campaign earlier this year, was delighted with the performance.
“We did our homework and and we got a pretty good outcome,” said the 48-year-old former Wallaby prop, who was a member of the side that won the 1991 World Cup.
“It was a pretty good performance. When we came here lots of people didn’t give us much of a chance. However, we have scored four tries to zero which is excellent in what is I think our best win over them since 1999.”
McKenzie, who had seen his side lose narrowly to England and then trounce the Italians prior to the Irish match, said that he had felt comfortable even when things weren’t going to plan on the pitch earlier in his tenure.
“I thought we were moving forward when we were losing,” he said.
“There had been lots of changes and lots of work on and off the pitch and it takes time for those to come to fruition and to blend in.”
McKenzie, who had an unhappy spell coaching French side Stade Francais, said that he was now looking to making it three in a row against the Scots next weekend.
“We’ve won two in a row now it is for us to extend it to three in a row,” he said.
“I think it is already snowing in Scotland which will be different for us and is unfortunate as we have been quite lucky so far in playing in dry conditions.
“We haven’t had a great record of late against the Scots but it is always good to have challenges as that sets you a target and we have shown in the last two matches we are able to meet them.”